Legal Aid for Criminal Matters

The Legal Aid Council

The Legal Aid Council (LAC) is a statutory entity under the Ministry of Justice. The Council’s mandate is to administer an efficient and coordinated legal aid system in Jamaica.

Main Functions

  • Administers a Legal Aid Scheme which provides legal aid for citizens. Currently criminal matters are entitled to Duty Counsel or Court Assignments.
  • In its advisory capacity, it keeps under review the Provisions and Regulations of the Legal Aid Act and makes such recommendations to the Minister (of Justice) as the Council sees fit.
  • Organises and establishes Legal Aid Clinics, formulating the requisite standards, procedures and regulatory framework.
  • Establishes panels of attorneys to execute legal aid duties in fulfilment of its mandate. As at September 30 2012, approximately three hundred and seventy-nine (379) attorneys are enlisted, including almost ninety (90) Senior Counsel. Our cadre of lawyers provides Duty Counsel Services and accepts Legal Aid court assignments.
  • Receives and administers the financial resources of the Council, consistent with the provisions of the Financial Administration and Audit Act and the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act.
  • Is empowered by Statute to establish and maintain a tariff of fees to be paid by the Council to attorneys for services rendered. The scale of fees ranges from the allotment for Duty Counsel Services to a maximum fee for Senior Counsel for Capital Murder trials. Review of fees commences with the Council having consultation with the Jamaican Bar Association and the Advocates Association of Jamaica. The Minister has the final call on the recommendations emerging from the aforementioned consultations.
  • In its Inquisitorial role, may enquire or investigate any matter the Council deems necessary in regard to the discharge of its functions.
  • Implements means test criteria and the prescribed process for contribution requests.
  • Increases public awareness of the legal aid system in Jamaica.
  • Administers an Outreach Programme to ensure that the public and stakeholders are fully apprised of its available services and the procedural processes required.
  • Visit The Legal Aid Council website for more infomation Click here